What difference can a homeopathic remedy make? And why should consumers care about and protect their rights to access homeopathic medicine? Paola Brown and Laura Held of Americans for Homeopathy Choice answer these questions and more on today’s podcast. They explain how, at one time in the United States, half of the medical schools, colleges, and hospitals relied on homeopathic remedies for restoring health. But now, the FDA has finalized a policy designating all homeopathic medicines as “unapproved new drugs” and consequently granting themselves the right to pull them off the shelves whenever they wish. Why the policy shift? And what can we do about it? Our guests describe several courses of action.
Visit Paola and Laura’s website.
Become a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (and tune into this week’s mini-sode!)
Check out our sponsors:
Listen to the podcast here
Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda.
At one time in the United States, half of all the medical schools, colleges and hospitals relied on homeopathic remedies for restoring health. The landscape has shifted significantly. But now, the FDA has finalized a policy designating all homeopathic medicines as “unapproved new drugs” and consequently granting themselves the right to pull them off the shelves whenever they wish. What’s at play, and why the 180 on the policy?
This is episode 408. Our guests are Paola Brown and Laura Held of Americans for Homeopathy Choice. Paola is the President of the organization, and Laura is the Grassroots Director. Together, they bring us up to speed on the history of homeopathy and why it’s critical that consumers have and protect their access to homeopathic remedies.
A shout-out to Serenity Farm Bread. It is made with quality organic ingredients and is properly prepared with no substitutions or GMOs. The bread is hand-shaped true sourdough, baked in a wood-fired brick oven and shipped directly to your home. Serenity offers a variety of sourdough bread, cookies, focaccia and more. The products are flavorful, chewy, and a crest above the rest. Go to SerenityFarmBread.com to order yours and use the code, WISETRADITIONS10, for 10% off your order.
Visit Paola and Laura’s website: HomeopathyChoice.org
Register for our Wise Traditions conference in Kansas this October: wisetraditions.org.
Become a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation – https://www.WestonAPrice.org/why-join/
Welcome to the show, Laura and Paola.
We are glad to be here.
Thanks much for having us.
Paola, I want to know a story of how homeopathy has impacted your own family’s life.
Probably my favorite one is how we’ve been able to completely avoid impetigo. We live in Texas. You might be familiar with impetigo. It’s a skin infection that you get that tends to happen more in warm and humid areas. He got this kind of rash on his leg. He had been playing in the little creek backyard. It started to spread. You’ll know it’s impetigo because it’ll form like these honey-colored crusty scabs that will look like they’ll be fine, but it’ll crack, leak, and spread.
This was happening with my son. At the time, it was typically caused by other staff or by the same structure of bacteria. It was spreading quickly for my son, and I was surprised. I’ve helped a lot of people heal, but you know how it goes. I help tons of people with impetigo. They’ll come to my house. We do the homeopathic remedy and take the case. I’m a mom. I’m not even a homeopath. It’s cute and I can do it.
When my son gets it, I can’t do it. It’s progressively getting worse. It was slowly crawling up his legs to the point that it blanketed both of his legs and it was even going up towards his torso and spots in his arms. I was pretty freaked out. At that point, what I did was I went to my doctor. I have a good doctor. He’s not too pushy with his treatments or methods. He says, “This is probably staff,” and orders some antibiotics.
I brought my son home, but he said it wasn’t serious. That was helpful information so that I knew my timeline. It doesn’t look serious. It looks ugly, but it’s not serious. It’s not like going deep into the flesh or causing cellulitis. I came home and started working with my homeopath. I have a family homeopath that works with us when we need it. We went through a few remedies but finally found the right one. It was amazing.
His body looks beautiful after his body fought off the illness. In the end, we didn’t need to take any antibiotics or medications. It was a great experience, especially for my son, for him to see the value of being patient, waiting, going through some of these illnesses and going through that discomfort and coming out the other side, empowered because how does your body fight and unless it’s gaining immunity, and it’s becoming smarter. It was stressful, but I’m glad we went through it and got through it.
I bet this is going to encourage a lot of parents because antibiotics as Natasha Campbell-McBride says get tossed around like candy. They’re always the go-to, and knowing that there are alternatives is fantastic. For some people, homeopathy may be unfamiliar. Can either of you give us a quick overview of what homeopathy is and how it got started?
Laura, do you want to take that one? She’s in homeopathy school.
Except that Paola does have an amazing homeopathy curriculum for kids. She knows how to talk about this too. When people hear the term homeopathy, a lot of times, I think home remedies, natural remedies, supplements and that kind of group a bunch of things in with that term. When in reality, homeopathy is a complete system of medicine that was developed by a medical doctor by the name of Samuel Hahnemann.
A little fun fact about Dr. Hahnemann. There is a statue in Washington, DC, in Scott Circle that was dedicated to him. It’s the only statute dedicated to a doctor in Washington, DC. When would he talk to members of our staffers on the hill, they are also surprised to hear that too. It’s fun to get to share. He spoke many languages and was doing translation of medical texts.
The theory was that Peruvian bark helped with malaria because of its bitterness. He thought of other things that are that don’t necessarily help with malaria, “Let’s test this out.” He took that substance and documented what had happened to him. He developed malaria-like symptoms. He started doing this with more and more people and confirmed the principle that faculties talked about years ago of like heals, and that a substance that causes symptoms, and a healthy person can heal those symptoms and a person who is ill with those symptoms. That’s the long and short of it.
That cures philosophy reminds me of that phrase that alcoholics sometimes use, “Let me have the hair of the dog that bit me.” Let’s talk a little bit about homeopathy and our health rates. You lead Americans For Homeopathy Choice. Obviously, it should be a choice. Is it at risk at all that we could have that choice taken away?
Homeopathic medicine is under a lot of pressure. You have to understand the history of homeopathy in the United States to understand how it can be under attack by the FDA, but that is where we’re at. What happened was in 1938 in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, homeopathic medicines were included as a separate category. We read the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that says anything that’s in the United States Pharmacopoeia or the National Formulary, or the homeopathic Pharmacopoeia, United States, any of these things are considered drugs.
What’s interesting is the person who wrote who was the primary sponsor of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was a medical doctor named Royal Copeland. He was a homeopath and practiced homeopathy. He was the New York Health Commissioner during the awful flu of 1918 when many people died. He had great success and great numbers. They even did an article about him in the New York Times when COVID came out.
I remember it was either them or the Washington Post that like barely mentioned that he was a homeopath, but he was a homeopath. His desire was to protect homeopathy, so he included it in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in an effort to secure it as part of our access. Why would they include those things in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act so that consumers can access these medicines?
For decades, the FDA and Congress had good institutional knowledge about homeopathy. If you think about it, why would there be a statue, a national monument in Washington, DC, about Samuel Hahnemann? It’s because there was a wonderful time in the United States when half the medical schools, medical colleges and hospitals were all homeopathic. As conventional big pharma took more prominence in our country, institutional knowledge has totally been lost.
When you review FDA policy over the decades and the congressional intent of that law, homeopathy has always been treated as something that’s separate and unique from conventional medicines. The rules or policies always said that homeopathic medicines are unique. They’re separate. They were never included in the processes that were included for conventional drugs. However, unfortunately, in 2017, FDA revised its policy document on homeopathic medicines. Over Christmas 2022, they did finalize that document. That document says that all homeopathic medicines are now unapproved new drugs and therefore, they’re all being illegally marketed.
Homeopathic medicines are unique and separate. They are not included in processes included for conventional drugs.
They’re going to be considered as unapproved drugs. What are the implications of that decision?
What that means is if there are unapproved new drugs, and therefore that means they’re being illegally marketed. That means that FDA can pull these medicines off shelves for any reason or no reason at all. There doesn’t need to be a savior. Think about it. If there’s something on the shelf that is being illegally marketed or unapproved, what reason does FDA need to provide other than that fact for pulling it off the shelf? There needs to be no safety issue at all.
Here’s the worst part. We met with high-ranking officials at the FDA. We said to them, “Maybe you don’t realize this, but the drug approval process that you guys have in place,” because if they wanted to become approved, FDA says, “Then you need to go through that approval process.” Maybe you don’t know this because you don’t know much about homeopathy. We said, “That approval process was specifically designed for chemical and pharmaceutical drugs. Homeopathic medicines, if they had the billions of dollars, it costs to go through that process, if even if they had that money, it wouldn’t pass because that is a different system of medicine.”
Coming up, Paola explains the implications of the FDA’s new policy document on homeopathy and why the consumer is ultimately the one that loses the most in this scenario.
Go to Amazon.com/OptimalCarnivore to order yours and use the code WESTON10 to receive 10% off all products. Remember, Optimal Carnivore has a Grass Fed Oregon Complex, Grass Fed Liver Product and the new Brain Nourish.
Paola, what’s the problem if the FDA wants to regard homeopathy or homeopathic remedies as a new and unapproved drug?
There are a couple of problems with this. Keep in mind that this is a policy documents and not a legal document that, according to the FDA, they feel that this means that they can pull medicines off the shelf for any reason or no reason at all because they haven’t been approved. For example, if you’re walking through the store and you see a medicine on the shelf that’s been unapproved, and FDA thinks it’s illegal, what other reasons are that does FDA need to pull it off the shelf other than that fat?
Have they done that before? Have they pulled things off the shelf even if there’s no proof that this is a dangerous drug? They’ve pulled it off the shelf because they haven’t approved it yet. Hasn’t it gone through the approval process?
We’ve already seen that happen with one other company. FDA was already using this guidance when it was in draft form before it came out. Why didn’t you tell them about that importation because they can do this on the shelves. Also a lot of homeopathic medicines are imported from overseas, particularly in Europe. Doing that at the border. Laura can share a little bit about that. We had a company who was importing some of their products from Germany. These are products that have been used across the world for many years.
The data on the last years of use in the US shows that there’s only been one adverse event report for these products, which have been used 325 million times. They have an unparalleled safety record. Safety was not the issue here. The fact that they were homeopathic drugs fell within the parameters of this guidance, which include all homeopathic drugs. When I say drugs, that might be confusing to some, but the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act did include homeopathic medicines as a category of drug. For the purposes, when we’re talking from a legal perspective, they are considered drugs.
It sounds like we’re at risk of losing a tool in our toolbox to care for our families in an alternative way outside the conventional medical system.
FDA says it’s a safety issue. That’s why they want to do this. They say that, “Homeopathy has grown a ton in the US. We need to revisit the policy.” They always like to point out safety issues, but when properly labeling manufacturers, these medicines are non-toxic, have been around for hundreds of years, and are very safe. It’s not a safety issue. To your point, “Are we going to lose access to this?” The FDA says, “Many will likely fall outside our enforcement priorities.” What does that mean? It means that we have to trust the FDA’s word and we have to say, “Thanks, we’re going to trust you.”
For argument’s sake, let’s say that the leadership is going to be fair and they’re not going to be too extreme with homeopathic medicines. What happens when my kids are older and there are new people in place FDA? We cannot have a relationship of trust with the FDA. Their word can’t be what we count on. We need to have a sustainable regulatory approach. Ultimately, Hilda, this policy document outlines how FDA will remove homeopathic medicines and proper regulation would then also include fine, “This is what we’re going to remove. If you violate XYZ, we’re going to remove it from the shelves.” That’s fair, but they would also have explicit information on how they could enter the market. This policy document only outlines the removal path.
Are you saying that the FDA might want to start making homeopathic remedies?
What I’m saying is that their policy document only outlines the removal path of these medicines. It doesn’t say what manufacturers should do in order to get onto the shelves.
It doesn’t show how to get approved on the shelves. It shows how they might be removed. I know it’s hard to know what the FDA but how likely are they to make it a priority to remove these from the shelves?
It’s anyone’s guess. That’s a little bit of reading the tea leaves. Having this policy out there is creating a lot of dysregulation or chaos in the market. You have a huge increase of inspections. You have manufacturers who are offering fewer medicines as far the variety they used to offer that’s becoming reduced. Anyone who knows Washington Homeopathics used to sell a top 100 remedy kit. Now they only sell a top 50 remedy kit. You have to think of the situation as holistic.
You look at the symptoms. You have this policy document and it’s having a chilling effect on the market. We’re seeing lawsuits go up because opportunistic lawyers see this policy document. They say, “It’s an unapproved new drug and technically legally marketed. Perfect, let’s go after and do some frivolous lawsuits.” We’ve seen a couple of pharmacies close in this environment. We’re seeing a lot of pressure on what is predominantly small businesses. The homeopathy sector is predominantly owned by small businesses. Laura, anything you want to add to that?
Ultimately, it’s the consumer who loses here. The example I gave of them business whose products were blocked at the border, they said, “We can no longer import these products. What are we going to do to stay afloat?” They’re looking at diversifying their portfolio. I don’t fault them at all for that. They’re trying to stay in business. Who loses there? The consumer. They no longer have access to these products.
This may or may not be able to survive this, but at what cost? What are we going to lose in the process? For those of you familiar with homeopathic medicine, it’s highly individualized. When there’s a particular remedy that you need, a different remedy may not cut it. It’s important that we have access to the full range of homeopathic medicines. There’s no reason not to because as long as they’re properly manufactured and labeled, they are completely safe.
I have a friend who uses it quite often. Her youngest son got a split lip. He hit a coffee table or something and she was on her way to the emergency room because it was likely going to require stitches indeed, it did and she gave him some homeopathic treatment to reduce the swelling. He was calm and peaceful amidst this pretty serious injury. I know consumers are going to want to hold on to what they have and that they want to keep being able to purchase homeopathy as needed. What’s next? If we were talking to my friend, what would you tell her to do to help protect her rights to homeopathy?
The most important thing that we can do is become activated. Our relationship with our government is one where we need to push back, check and balance our government. Citizens are called to check and balance their government. If we fall asleep at the wheel, this is what happens. The Government gets bigger and wants to take more control. I’d like to say as the moon draws water, and gravity is always pulling. Government’s nature is to always take more control. It’s important for citizens to get organized and activated. At Americans For Homeopathy Choice, that has been our focus. Our focus is to get very organized and to activate our citizens. We have an amazing grassroots team that is working on building relationships with Congress.
Citizens need to check and balance their government. If they fall asleep at the wheel, the government gets bigger and wants to take more control.
That’s what Laura’s specialty is. She’s our grassroots director. She can talk a bit more about that. We have an option where you can go to our website HomeopathyChoice.org. There, you can fill out your information. We’ll identify who your members of Congress are, congressmen and senators, and you can send in a comment to them because this coming March 2023, we have our grassroots team going and meeting with members of Congress.
By sending in your letters, you’re going to prime the pump for them, as we have these meetings. What’s unique about our grassroots team is a lot of times, you have a flash in the pan, or everybody goes one day. They talk to the representatives on day one and then it’s over for the rest of the year. Our grassroots team builds long-term relationships with their office. We keep pushing this issue so that we can maintain access to homeopathic medicines.
I’ll give an example of that. Our ultimate goal, and we don’t necessarily get this with every office, is to become the go-to resource on homeopathic medicine for each office because if we’re not there, then they’re going to get the information somewhere, that’s the FDA or Google with a PDF. We need constituents speaking up on this.
An example of what Poala was talking about in developing these relationships is one of our grassroots members, their office, the legislator for this office, saw what was happening with the finalization of this guidance and some other issues with dietary supplements. She asked her staffer to give her an update about what was going on her staffer on late on a Friday night after business hours and chose to call our hat team member, which was such a rewarding opportunity for her to see that come to fruition. It’s exactly why we are formed why we’re here to stand in that gap.
I’m glad you have because if the staffer had not had that connection with you, they might not have reached out to you. It’s important because some people out there regard homeopathy as quackery because I think it even says that and Wikipedia or something.
Wikipedia is very conventional and chiropractic. All these kinds of wonderful modalities that have helped many people are constantly put down over Wikipedia.
I wonder if people can’t get homeopathic remedies in the US. If they’re going to try to go overseas and circumvent the whole system? Is that a good idea or can you not say?
That’s what we were saying before with that first example. Those are medicines that are being imported. That was a company importing medicines to the US, but many people making private orders from overseas are also getting blocked. FDA has an office in customs. This is an important issue. This is an important time to get active and speak up.
It’s a good point overall. Sure, there might be these little workarounds we can do, but that is such a terrible state to be in. Especially for our kids and grandchildren, we need a sustainable approach to the regulation of these medicines.
We want to encourage people to do things through the system and that’s why I’m glad you all are moving to make a difference within the parameters that the FDA and others give you. I want to ask you the question I’d like to pose at the end of the show here. If the reader could do one thing to improve their health and it may be related to homeopathy or may not be, what would you recommend that they do? Let’s start with Paola.
Honestly, something that I do every single day that does improve my health is hug my family and my kids to get my hands on them and smother them with him. I have teenagers now I have to kind of be strong. Give them a big hug and a kiss and try and connect with them meaningfully once a day. I have found I could you not. It is good for my hormonal balance and my stress level. It is such an important part of my day is to connect. If you’re an empty nester, find a way to connect with someone meaningful every day. I can do that with my family because they’re never going to leave and be here forever. That’s not true. That’s something that energizes me.
Always work on improving your health every single day. Do not forget to hug your family and connect with them meaningfully once a day.
What about you, Laura?
Instead of being a no person, I’m anti this no to this via yes person. It’s along the lines of negativity and positivity. It was interesting because this person I was talking to said he had been involved with this activist who’s been this no person all along. He saw him years later, and he did not used to be very vibrant and did not look good. I do think that negativity and the anti-approach can take a toll on health. Putting forth solutions and putting forth, “Here’s what we are doing,” does impact our health more than we might think.
The energy and the vibration behind the positive direction are so much better than being against something. I love the hug idea too. Thank you to both of you. It has been a pleasure.
Thank you. We appreciate being on here.
Thank you so much for having us.
Our guests were Paola Brown and Laura Held of Americans for Homeopathy Choice. Visit their website, HomeopathyChoice.org to discover ways to get involved. Please remember that we reported a minisode with Paola and Laura that you can find on our website once you become a member. Now for a letter to the editor from a recent journal.
Michelle from North Carolina had this to say, “We want to send our sincerest thanks for the opportunity, your website and work for food freedom has given to our family. We began our raw milk herd share on our farm about many years ago when we were only milking one cow. At the time, we had interest from several neighbors and friends in the milk we were providing. We then increased our herd to three cows and decided to list our farm on the real milk finder at RealMilk.com. Since listing our farm, our membership has grown exponentially. We have now grown to six beautiful dairy cows to meet the demand. We attribute most of the growth to the listing on your website. We can’t thank you enough for the service that you provide.
Michelle from Shelter Mountain Farm in North Carolina, it is our pleasure. The Real Milk website is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation. It was initiated by Sally Fallon Morel years ago as she is a huge fan of raw milk as all of us are. We’re glad that site has been helpful for you. You too can go to RealMilk.com to find out where real raw milk is available where you live. Thank you so much for reading. Stay well. Remember to keep your feet on the ground and your face to the sun.
About Paola Brown
Paola Brown is president and founder of Americans for Homeopathy Choice, the voice of a growing number of mothers and other homeopathy users who want to protect their right to choose homeopathy. Paola is a wife and mother of three who has previously taught many introductory homeopathy classes. She received a B.A. in English education and an M.A. in curriculum and instruction from Arizona State University graduating summa cum laude both times. She taught college English for 13 years and high school English before that. Fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, Paola was also a health instructor with Care for Life, a nonprofit organization working to develop sustainable communities in Mozambique.
About Laura Held
Laura Held is a wife, mother, home educator, and student at the Academy of Homeopathy Education. As the Grassroots Director for Americans for Homeopathy Choice, Laura oversees the nationwide volunteer advocacy team advancing the organization’s efforts to foster the inclusion of the consumer voice in policy decisions on homeopathic medicine. She previously worked for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and was integral to the development of the U.S. Currency Education Program and training domestic and global stakeholders for the launch of the new-design $100 note.
- Americans for Homeopathy Choice